5 August 2011
For Workers Republics on Both Sides of the Irish Sea!
Down With the Monarchy and the “United Kingdom”!
We reprint below an article from Workers Hammer No. 215 (Summer 2011), newspaper of the Spartacist League/Britain, section of the International Communist League.
When the starving poor of Paris demanded bread, the haughty French Queen Marie Antoinette famously said “let them eat cake.” For British working people facing the deepest economic crisis since World War II, the equivalent is “give them a royal wedding.” Hardly had the hoopla subsided over the nuptials of William and Kate in April when the whole royal circus was re-enacted in the meticulously choreographed visit of Elizabeth II to Ireland a few weeks later.
A popular joke doing the rounds in the run-up to the royal wedding went along the lines of: “Prince William says he doesn’t want the traditional fruit cake at the wedding, but Prince Philip says he doesn’t give a toss and is going anyway.” Forever the butt of jokes due to his unstoppable, bigoted ravings on royal engagements, Prince Philip is often portrayed as a senile old reactionary in contrast to a reserved, reverential Her Majesty. But whatever comparable tact the Queen may display, Prince Philip’s outbursts are an unashamed expression of the racist, class contempt that is the institution of the monarchy.
David Cameron [Conservative prime minister] and his cabinet celebrated the announcement of the royal wedding last autumn with a banging of fists on the table in the manner of those educated in public schools [elite private schools], inculcated as they are with the arrogance that they are born to rule. For Cameron & Co., the event would be a “wedding of mass distraction” in which the population would fawn over the marriage of two pampered parasites and would put the devastating cuts and job losses to the back of their minds. But that is not quite how it turned out, as Polly Toynbee reported on the “big day” itself:
“Yet despite months of coverage, rising to a crescendo of print and broadcasting frenzy this week, the country has remained resolutely phlegmatic. Cameras pick out the wildest enthusiasts camped out or dressed as brides, yet the Guardian/ICM poll and others put those expressing ‘strong interest’ at only 20%.
“In poll after poll, more than 70% refused to be excited. Laconic, cool, only half the population said they would watch Friday’s flummery.”
—Guardian, 29 April
If there was little enthusiasm in England, Scotland and Wales showed even less excitement over the royal spectacle.
But we had to put up with it nonetheless: the absurd yet very real gossip about the Prince marrying a “commoner,” which says a lot about this country’s “in-your-face” class prejudice. Kate Middleton’s millionaire parents belong to the top 0.5 per cent income bracket and this “commoner” went to the same public school as the wives of the prime minister and the chancellor. In the eyes of the aristocracy, she is not high-born enough for her and her sibling to avoid the tag of “the wisteria sisters” in reference to their social climbing, or to avoid the “doors to manual” dig at her mother, a former airline stewardess. There was the endless bunting, the portrait of “Wills and Kate” emblazoned on the Union Jack—that butcher’s apron, the flag of an empire where “the sun never set” and the blood never dried and of the continued imperialist slaughter of Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya.
For those wanting to protest against the royal carnival, the message from Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones was that this could be deemed criminal. In a statement she declared, “this is a day of celebration, joy and pageantry” adding, “Any criminals attempting to disrupt it, be that in the guise of protest or otherwise, will be met by a robust, decisive, flexible and proportionate policing response.” In a suspension of democratic rights, dozens of people were barred from central London on the day of the wedding. Using the occasion as an excuse for a political clampdown, squats and social centres were raided.
Several student protesters were arrested and charged, including Alfie Meadows, the student who required brain surgery when he was struck down by police at a tuition fees protest in December. Scores of people were pre-emptively arrested in connection with the wedding, including several who were charged with “conspiracy to cause a public nuisance” for planning activities such as a Right Royal Orgy event, a proposed piece of street theatre in London. The bourgeoisie were taking no chances with their feudal freak show. Some 5,000 police officers were part of the royal wedding security operation on the day, with 550 armed police put on a shoot-to-kill footing.
Abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the established churches is an elementary democratic demand but one that is integral to a revolutionary programme in Britain. The continued existence of such feudal relics is an assertion that class privilege and vast inequality is part of the “natural” order of things in which each—“the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate”—has his place. We stand in the tradition of the English Revolutionaries of the 17th century who “turned the world upside down,” overthrowing the feudal order with the king at its head, and of the revolutionary Chartists in the 19th century who disdained to bow in awe before the monarchy and marched with pikes and muskets in their hands. Opposition to the monarchy as the pinnacle of the British class system is a precondition for building a party fit to overthrow capitalist rule in this country.
The Queen “Forgives” the Irish!
The Queen’s visit was the first time that an English monarch had set foot in southern Ireland since independence in 1921, indeed since George V’s visit in 1911. The bourgeois press in Britain and Ireland was awestruck as the Queen, accompanied by Irish president Mary McAleese, laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, dedicated to those who fought for Irish freedom against the British crown, from the 1798 United Irishmen to the 1916 Easter Rising and the 1919-21 war of Irish independence. Typical of the obsequious press coverage was the London Independent’s statement that “what made the appearance all the more memorable, was the Queen’s tilt of the head—apparently silencing centuries of conflict” (independent.co.uk, 22 May).
More grovelling followed when the Queen went to the national stadium in Croke Park, scene of the original Bloody Sunday when in November 1920 British auxiliary troops, the hated “Black and Tans,” opened fire on a crowd at a Gaelic football match, killing 14. This massacre was an act of revenge for the assassination by Irish nationalists of eleven undercover British agents earlier that day. In a speech in Dublin the Queen intoned: “With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently—or not at all.” Thus the British rulers would whitewash the history of their colonial rule in Ireland. This “reconciliation” is of a piece with Tory prime minister David Cameron’s grudging admission a year ago that the 1972 Bloody Sunday killing of 14 unarmed protesters in Derry was “unjustified,” while adding that of course Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the British Army’s role in Northern Ireland from 1969-2007. At the time we wrote:
“This is a blatant attempt to bury the memory of British Army brutality in Northern Ireland once and for all. The theme about the need to ‘move on,’ to erase the memory of Bloody Sunday from history, is echoed ad nauseam in the British capitalist press. By portraying Bloody Sunday as an exceptional incident within an otherwise impeccable record, the Saville Report [on Bloody Sunday] is being used to refurbish the credentials of the imperialist forces who today shoot-to-kill with impunity in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
—Workers Hammer No. 211, Summer 2010
An official visit to Dublin by an English monarch would have been unthinkable if not for the imperialist “peace deal” codified in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, under which the Irish Republican Army (IRA) agreed to disarm itself and the Irish nationalists of Sinn Fein joined the Northern Ireland government in Stormont. Sinn Fein refused to condemn or protest the Queen’s visit, and were not part of the formal reception. The “peace process” gave cosmetic surgery to the Orange state [Northern Ireland] but it remains fundamentally the same repressive, anti-Catholic state that it was at the time of partition in 1921. Independence for Ireland replaced the yoke of British domination with a clericalist, Catholic state in the south. We fight against the national oppression of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland; at the same time we oppose the bourgeois nationalist programme for a “united Ireland,” which would create an oppressed Protestant minority. We insist that the conflicting claims of the interpenetrated Catholic and Protestant communities can only be equitably resolved in the framework of an Irish workers republic within a voluntary federation of workers republics in the British Isles.
The Queen’s visit and the ballyhoo about the “normalisation” of relations between Britain and Ireland is not unconnected to the fact that today Britain has more trade with Ireland than it does with Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. Amid fears that the Irish government might default on its loans from the European Central Bank, the debt-ridden British government has a vested interest in ensuring that its loans are paid back. An article in the Irish satirical magazine the Phoenix (3 June) titled “British Queen frees the Irish from themselves” wryly noted: “The British lent us their Queen for a few days so as to revive our tourist industry and to bury the hatchet, sorry, the past.” It summed up: “Britain offered a loan (that protects British investors) and makes tut-tutting noises at nasty continentals.”
A comrade reporting from Dublin during the Queen’s visit said: “The visit has been accompanied by the largest security operation in the history of the state, with Dublin in almost complete lockdown for three days.” There were small protests by groups of Irish nationalists which were encircled by riot police who continually harassed and beat the demonstrators and arrested many. The Irish Anti-War Movement, dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), also called a “black balloon” protest under the slogan: “Remember the deaths at the hands of Her Majesty’s forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Conveniently not mentioned is the Irish bourgeoisie’s role in supporting the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan, including making Shannon airport available for U.S. military operations. Also whited out of history is British imperialism’s role in Northern Ireland.
“United Kingdom” and English Domination
The Sunday Times (29 May) reported that: “The Queen has signalled in a private meeting with David Cameron her concern at the prospect of the break-up of the United Kingdom.” This was in response to the victory of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) in the Scottish elections in May. Similarly, at the time of her 1977 Silver Jubilee the Queen declared: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” We revolutionaries oppose the reactionary entity known as the “United Kingdom,” which incorporates the Orange statelet in Northern Ireland and rests on English domination over Scotland and Wales. The Westminster parliament reflects the favoured status granted to finance capital and the City of London by the ruling class, which has contempt for the former industrial areas of northern England, as well as Scotland and Wales.
A tirade of English chauvinism followed the victory of the SNP which now enjoys an outright majority in the Scottish parliament. The English press worked up a lather over the fact that the SNP might hold a referendum on independence— heaven forbid that the Scots should be allowed to decide such a question for themselves! The Spartacist League upholds the right of self-determination for the Scottish and Welsh nations—which means the right to separate (or not to separate). In reality, SNP leader Alex Salmond is in no rush to set a date for a referendum on independence because despite the popularity of certain SNP policies, such as lower student tuition fees than in England, the electorate might well vote no to independence. The SNP’s vision is one of an independent capitalist Scotland, under the English Crown and accepting the British armed forces. If an independent capitalist Scotland came into existence it would fare little better than Ireland, whose “Celtic Tiger” economy was once the SNP’s model.
Our attitude to the national question in Britain is grounded in intransigent opposition to all forms of nationalism—first and foremost the dominant English chauvinism. Our programme is for workers revolutions to overthrow all the capitalist regimes in Britain and in Ireland, North and South. The myriad forms of national oppression will be resolved when workers revolution has swept away capitalist rule on both sides of the Irish border and both sides of the Irish Sea.
Recall the Fate of Charles I!
In opposition to the royalist blather of the ruling class about “tradition” and “heritage,” we revolutionary Marxists have our own traditions. We recall the historic fate that befell Charles I in 1649 as a result of the defeat of the Royalist forces by Oliver Cromwell’s army. The English Revolution that began in 1640 took the form of a civil war between Royalists, who had the support of the landed aristocracy and the Anglican Church, and the Parliamentarians who included the rising capitalist class, backed by the labouring masses of the day. In 1645, Cromwell founded the New Model Army, heavily drawn from the ranks of yeomen, peasants and labouring classes of the cities, who became the decisive force in the revolution.
The New Model Army inflicted crushing defeats on the Royalists and in 1645 they captured the King. The conservative bourgeois elements in Parliament sought a compromise with the Royalists, enraging the army ranks who were led by the Levellers, the left wing of the revolution. In 1647 Parliament tried to disperse the army regiments, ordering them to enlist for Ireland or face immediate dismissal. The ranks mutinied, seized the King, held him captive and demanded that Cromwell should resume leadership of the army, which he did. But political debates raged between the Levellers and the generals and a split in the army was averted when the King escaped (or was freed) and the civil war re-ignited. Throughout 1648 Cromwell’s army again inflicted defeats on the Royalists. In Cromwell’s absence the army leadership in London, in alliance with the Levellers, decided to put the King on trial, which meant he would face execution. After some initial hesitation Cromwell endorsed the regicide, declaring: “I tell you we will cut off his head with the crown on it.” The execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 marked the decisive defeat for the feudal order in England. The result was unprecedented progress, not least in the abolition of the monarchy under the appropriately irreverent and rational wording “the office of a king in this country is unnecessary, burdensome and dangerous to the liberty, safety and public interest of the people.” The House of Lords was also abolished for a time, being deemed “useless and dangerous.” The English Republic adopted Common Law over the “Royal Prerogative,” abolished the “Star Chamber” system of courts and permitted a degree of religious dissent.
Two years after Cromwell’s death, the monarchy was restored in 1660. But there would be no going back to the situation where the feudal nobles ruled over the bourgeoisie. Leon Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, pointed out that, in the course of defeating the Royalist side, Cromwell had created a new society and that this could not be undone by decrees of Parliament. He explained:
“In dispersing parliament after parliament Cromwell displayed as little reverence toward the fetish of ‘national’ representation as in the execution of Charles I he had displayed insufficient respect for a monarchy by the grace of God. Nonetheless it was this same Cromwell who paved the way for the parliamentarism and democracy of the two subsequent centuries. In revenge for Cromwell’s execution of Charles I, Charles II swung Cromwell’s corpse up on the gallows. But pre-Cromwellian society could not be re-established by any restoration. The works of Cromwell could not be liquidated by the thievish legislation of the Restoration because what has been written with the sword cannot be wiped out by the pen.”
—“Where Is Britain Going?” (1925)
Cromwell’s Conquest of Ireland
After the defeat of the Royalists in England, Cromwell organised an expedition to Ireland. In the outline of a report on the Irish question to the Communist Educational Association of German Workers in London, Karl Marx noted that “By engaging in the conquest of Ireland, Cromwell threw the English Republic out the window” (16 December 1867).
Cromwell’s conquest of the country was a continuation of the English Crown’s hundreds of years-long subjugation of Ireland. It represented, in the words of the Marxist authority on the English Civil War, Christopher Hill: “the first big triumph of English imperialism and the first big defeat of English democracy.” A necessary precondition for the English bourgeoisie’s invasion of Ireland was rooting out the Levellers from the ranks of the army. The prospect of being shipped to Ireland had provoked a Leveller revolt in the army in 1649. This time, unlike in 1647, Cromwell and his generals did not side with the mutineers. The Levellers were crushed by Cromwell at Burford, their leaders were arrested, four were executed. The episode showed that while the English Revolution, as a bourgeois revolution, was progressive in its ascendancy against feudalism, once the bourgeoisie took power, the progressive content soon gave way to reaction as the capitalist class consolidated its hold on power. Once established, bourgeois rule in its Irish colony was based on the profit-accumulating, imperialistic interests of that class.
In his writings on Britain, Trotsky emphasised the revolutionary traditions that the British working class needed to reclaim and emulate. This is in counterposition to the reformist Labour Party “lefts” who insisted that British workers could learn little from the experience of the Russian Revolution, as Britain was a more civilised, Christian country with established democratic channels through which socialism could patiently and peacefully be phased into existence. Trotsky advocated that British workers should learn from the Roundhead [Cromwellian] and Chartist traditions of revolutionary struggle, as against the Labour Party’s Fabian tradition of gradualism and pacifistic class-collaboration. Trotsky observed:
“The British bourgeoisie has erased the very memory of the seventeenth-century revolution by dissolving its past in ‘gradualness.’ The advanced British workers will have to re-discover the English revolution and find within its ecclesiastical shell the mighty struggle of social forces. Cromwell was in no case a ‘pioneer of labour.’ But in the seventeenth-century drama, the British proletariat can find great precedents for revolutionary action.”
—“Where Is Britain Going?” (1925)
Contrasting Cromwell with the Labour Party leaders who “dare not refuse pocket money to the Prince of Wales,” he declared “the dead lion of the seventeenth century is in this sense immeasurably greater than many living dogs.”
On the Chartist tradition Trotsky insisted: “As the Chartists tossed the sentimental preachers of ‘moral force’ aside and gathered the masses behind the banner of revolution, so the British proletariat is faced with ejecting reformists, democrats and pacifists from its midst and rallying to the banner of a revolutionary overturn.” Chartism was the first mass independent workers movement, brought into being by the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution. The powerful left wing of the Chartists was republican, internationalist and revolutionary-minded. They asserted the right to bear arms and bitterly opposed the new, semi-military professional police in working-class districts across the country. Chartism was defeated and demoralised in the aftermath of the failure of the European-wide 1848 revolutions and the ensuing reaction. This paved the way for “Christian-socialist” Fabianism and the Labour Party, which since its founding in 1900 as the political expression of the trade union bureaucracy has worked to tie the working class to the bourgeois order.
Her Majesty’s Labour Party Vassals
Loyal to the capitalist state and its institutions, the Labour Party has always been a reliable prop for the monarchy, whether through staunch support or presenting the institution as a harmless irrelevance. At the Labour Party conference of 1923, when a resolution questioning the need for the monarchy was proposed, the “left” George Lansbury argued “what is the use of bothering about that just now” and the motion was voted down by 3,694,000 to 386,000!
The Labour leaders have a history of grovelling before the Crown—from Ramsay MacDonald, Labour’s first prime minister, donning royal plumage when invited to Buckingham Palace in 1927 and graciously allowing King George V to arrange the 1931 popular-front government between Labour and the Tories, to Tony Blair’s craven service to the royal family following the death of Lady Diana and his insistence that the Queen is the “best of British.”
There was at least one amusing spectacle at the royal wedding—much to his chagrin, Blair’s fawning over the monarchy was not even rewarded with an invite. Whether the royal snub was a result of Blair’s conversion to Catholicism, the fox-hunting ban so loathed by the aristocracy or just his connection to the Labour Party (however tenuous its links to the working class) we can only speculate. Labour’s current leader, Ed Miliband, was keen to show he was fit for prime-ministerial office with his support for the royals and contempt for working people when, in the period before the royal wedding, he railed against the possibility of strikes being called anywhere near the occasion. Not that strikes were ever likely to disrupt such a patriotic affair given the present bunch of trade union misleaders.
Whatever occasional mutterings against the monarchy may come from Labour Party “lefts,” the reality on the ground is very different. That darling of the reformist left, Tony Benn, an avowed republican, has in fact sworn an oath in defence of the Crown, as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council, a position granted to everyone who becomes a governmental cabinet minister. It should be remembered that Benn was a member of the Labour cabinet that sent troops to Northern Ireland in 1969. Labour’s shameful tradition also includes Arthur Henderson who, as a cabinet member, was in the King’s “advisory” Privy Council when the British government ordered the execution of James Connolly for his heroic role as the head of the proletarian Irish Citizen Army in the Dublin 1916 Easter Rising against British rule.
British “Far Left”: Latter-Day Fabians
The British “far-left” organisations are steeped in Labourism and so they soft-pedal any opposition to the monarchy. In 1997, during the media-induced hysteria surrounding the death of Princes William and Harry’s mother Diana Spencer, the left whistled to the tune of Tony Blair’s “people’s princess” platitudes. Our article at the time reported:
“The fake-revolutionary left, ever in Labour’s tow, was swept along, nominal disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding. Diana Spencer may have been the girl from the 10,000 acres next door, but for the centrist Workers Power group, ‘Her depression, bulimia, suicide attempts and ultimately divorce provided a glitzy microcosm of the plight of millions of less wealthy women’ (Workers Power, September 1997). That (and more) said, Workers Power assured its readers that it would ‘not be joining in the wave of national mourning’ and even vowed to ‘do everything’ to get the monarchy ‘scrapped forever’—everything, that is, but oppose Blair’s Labour Party at election time.
“In the same vein, but even more nauseating, was the so-called Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB)…. The CPGB’s Weekly Worker (4 September) carried a front-page eulogy by chief spokesman Jack Conrad. While allowing that ‘even a bourgeois republic is preferable to the anti-democratic monarchy,’ Conrad outdid even Blair himself in his treacly musings for the ‘troublesome princess’ who ‘represented a soul in a soulless world’: ‘Her brief 36 years epitomise the struggle and fate of the 20th century personality who by chance and/or design has been iconised and thus commodified and sold by the uncontrollable, all pervasive power of capital’.”
—Workers Hammer No. 159, November/December 1997
In contrast, our article maintained:
“From the standpoint of the working class, the death of the ‘Princess of Wales’ was not a tragedy; special interest in the affairs of royalty, which places the life of an aristocrat above that of her chauffeur, betrays something of a servile instinct. The archaic institution of monarchy should long ago have been consigned to the dustbin of history.”
For its part, the British SWP has gone a step further than the other reformists. At the founding of their ill-fated Respect Coalition in 2004, SWP leaders ensured that a resolution which called for the abolition of the monarchy was voted down!
For the reformist left, any opposition to the monarchy is framed by the consideration that it is an expensive excess and an embarrassment to the façade of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.
Obviously, the vast cost of maintaining the royal parasites is an obscenity, but while this may be the main point of emphasis for liberals and reformists, Marxists realise capitalist budgets are made in the interests of the bourgeoisie and, for the bourgeoisie, royal visits, weddings and the monarchy itself are cheap indeed for the reactionary purposes they serve. The emphasis on tradition, heritage and historical continuity which this feudal relic implies is supposed to foster illusions in a class-harmonious, evolutionary society, free of tumultuous social change. Our comrades in the U.S. captured this perfectly in a 1977 article on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee:
“The Queen thus represents the British counterpart to the American myth that U.S. society is classless. In England it is manifestly impossible to deny the existence of class-based inequality. So the ruling class maintains that while there are classes, and there may be shifts in the class structure, there must be no class struggle. The monarchy is the living and familiar sign that there is a grossly unequal social place for everyone, and that this is historical and inevitable. That is why the Queen is treated with such dignity, why this cow is sacred.”
—Workers Vanguard No. 164, 1 July 1977
The monarchy does not merely fulfil a symbolic role, to the advantage of the British bourgeoisie, but stands ready as a rallying point for reaction. The Queen is the head of state; it is to her, and not parliament, that the armed forces and its officer corps swear an oath of allegiance. In the event of social crisis, in which the bourgeoisie felt its rule to be threatened, it is quite conceivable that the monarchy would be used in a reactionary mobilisation to stabilise the capitalist order, providing constitutional cover for a right-wing bonapartist coup. During WWII, discussions between the pro-Hitler Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII, and the Nazis in Germany placed the Duke as the rumoured likely prospect to head a quisling government in England after the fall of France in 1940.
In fact the royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth II has already been used to bring down a government in Australia, where she is also head of state. As our Australian comrades explained:
“In 1975 Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, his government the object of a concerted CIA destabilisation campaign, threatened to expose the role of the top secret U.S. spy bases. The Queen’s man and more importantly the CIA’s man, Governor General John Kerr, dismissed the elected government. Utterly committed to the institutions of the capitalist state, including the constitutional powers invested in the Queen, the ALP [Australian Labor Party] tops preached loyalty to the parliamentary process rather than let an enraged working class get ‘out of hand.’ The events of 1975 illustrated how the constitutional monarchy in Britain and here could be used in some future crisis to bestow ‘legitimacy’ on the establishment of a reactionary, possibly military regime to defend the capitalist order.”
—Australasian Spartacist No. 144, Autumn 1992
Workers Revolution Will Sweep Away Medieval Rubbish
Karl Marx reported with great affection a protest by the British working class against class oppression in 1855. This was a protest against the Sunday Trading Bill and Beer Bill which ensured shops were closed and restricted the opening hours of “places of public entertainment” (most notably public houses): their “betters” had decided the workers should be on their knees in church instead. Seeing the stark hypocrisy of the upper classes, who were not affected and who spent the day on leisurely carriage rides in London’s Hyde Park, a mass demonstration of the workers was called there and concluded in the following confrontation with English high society:
“A babel of jeering, taunting, discordant ejaculations, in which no language is as rich as English, enveloped [the upper classes] from both sides. As it was an improvised concert, instruments were lacking. The chorus therefore had to use its own organs and was compelled to confine itself to vocal music. And what a diabolical concert it was: a cacophony of grunting, hissing, whistling, squeaking, snarling, growling, croaking, shrieking, groaning, rattling, howling, gnashing sounds! A music that could drive men mad and move a stone. To this must be added outbursts of genuine old-English humour peculiarly mixed with long-contained seething wrath. ‘Go to church!’ were the only articulate sounds that could be distinguished. One lady soothingly offered a prayer book in conventional binding from her carriage. ‘Give it to read to your horses!’ came the thunderous reply, shouted by a thousand voices.”
—Karl Marx, “Anti-Church Movement—Demonstration in Hyde Park” (28 June 1855)
So moved by this demonstration of proletarian class outrage, Marx wrote: “We saw it from beginning to end and do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the English Revolution began in Hyde Park yesterday.”
We look to the revolutionary proletariat of these islands to abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords—this time for good—and the established churches, along with the bourgeois rulers and all other forms of social parasitism, through socialist revolution! To do so the working class will need its revolutionary organisation. Our aim is to build this, modelled on Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party which, acting as a tribune for all the oppressed, led the storming of the tsar’s “prison house of peoples” and liberated one sixth of the earth from autocratic, chauvinist oppression and capitalist exploitation. The tsar was prevented from gaining asylum in Britain with his cousin King George V, who feared the repercussions this deeply unpopular move would have had for his own dynasty. Lenin and Trotsky’s desire was to put the tsar on trial as with the fate of Charles I in the English Revolution and Louis XVI in the French Revolution. But with the counterrevolutionary White armies closing in on where the tsar and his family were imprisoned, the local Bolsheviks were forced to wipe the Romanov dynasty from the face of the Earth. As Isaac Deutscher relayed from Trotsky’s diary:
“In the midst of civil war, [Trotsky] says, the Bolsheviks could not leave the White Armies with a ‘live banner to rally around’; and after the Tsar’s death any one of his children might have served them as the rallying symbol. The Tsar’s children ‘fell victim to that principle which constitutes the axis of Monarchy: dynastic succession’.”
—The Prophet Outcast, Trotsky: 1929-1940 (1963)
Forward to a world where the perversions of monarchy and dynastic succession are remembered only as abolished relics of the past!